A WOMAN OF BREEDING MEETS A MAN OF NO STANDING…
To redeem her family’s disgraced name, Lady Louisa Scranton has decided to acquire a proper husband. He needs to be a man of fortune and highly respectable in order to restore both her family’s lost wealth and reputation. She enters the Marriage Mart with all flags flying, determined to find the right bachelor.
But Louisa’s hopes are dashed when the Bishop of Hargate drops dead at her feet—and she is shockingly accused of murder! Soon, Louisa’s so-called friends begin shunning her, because the company of a suspected killer is never desirable in polite society.
The problem comes to the ears of Detective Inspector Lloyd Fellows, by-blow of the decadent Scottish Mackenzie family and an inspector for Scotland Yard. He has shared two passionate kisses with Lady Louisa–and vows to clear her name. For not only does he know she’s innocent, he recognizes he’s falling for the lovely lady. Fellows is Louisa’s only hope of restoring her family’s honor—and it is he alone who intrigues Louisa in a way that may be even more scandalous than murder.
Gosh, when I started reading these Mackenzie novels I was sure, as I finished each succeeding one, that they couldn’t get any better. Well, they just keep on keeping on, and this latest one is a surprising tale in many ways. Featuring the illegitimate brother who is now a Scotland Yard chief detective inspector, the author keeps us up on the doings of the entire family in the course of the story. But this tale is not only a romance but it is a killer of a mystery that involves the death of a not-very-nice clergyman and the shy and caring young lady who society has decided is guilty of the murder. It also happens that Lloyd Fellows, the errant Mackenzie brother, is deeply in love with the accused. It is a wonderful story of loyalty and the unique style of the Mackenzies to stand by all those who they include as a part of their inner circle. Louisa can claim that place as Isobel Mackenzie’s sister. It is a testimony to Hart and Eleanor’s generous natures that they fly in the fact of all the ton as they claim Louisa as one of their own and dare anyone to nay say her in any way.
This is also a story about the difficulties of what it meant to be a bastard, to have to deal realistically with the challenges of trying to survive when one had no social standing and had to live by one’s wits and one’s fists. Lloyd had earned every bit of the grudging respect the people of London gave him as well as the awareness of the criminal element that he was not one they wanted to put on their trail. Yet his gentleness, his concern for Louisa’s reputation, his refusal to put her in any danger makes very good reading and is the stuff of which true romance is made. This is also a story that chronicles the changed attitude Lloyd had toward his Mackenzie relatives. In earlier days he hated the duke and all his offspring for the way he and his mother were ignored and allowed to barely survive. Yet it was small acts of kindness that eventually brought him to realize that the attitudes of the old duke were not replicated in his sons. The gentle persuasions of Louisa who loved Lloyd deeply also gradually helped him to realize that he was a man of worth whether society deemed him so or not.
Once again Ms Ashley has given us a book that will probably join others in this series on our “favorites” book lists. I am delighted to have had the privilege to read and review this novel and I can’t imagine that anyone who has loved the previous stories in this series won’t continue to be delighted in the saga of the Mackenzies. Don’t miss this one!
I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.